A Jan Joosten Van Meteren Line: INTRO & DIRECTORY

Joseph M Van Matre. (1900-1990)

This post is in honor of Joseph M Van Matre, the author of the book “A Story of A Van Matre Family”, 1985. This book was passed down through the family, but never formally published, as far as I could find. However you can find a free copy of the book at the Family Search website under Books here: A Story of A Van Matre Family. You will need to be a member of FamilySearch.org and log in, but it’s free to do so.  

Joseph spent years researching and writing his book in a time before the internet. Many of the stories and information in this blog series was obtained from this awesome resource. 

Although he is not in the line that I am documenting, John Johnson Van Matre is his 3rd great grandfather and I felt it was important to honor him. The autobiography below was obtained from his book.

Joseph Murrell van Matre

son of John Leon and Ida Lillian “Lillie” (Campton) Van Matre

Born:                5 Oct 1900 in Fayette Township, Lafayette County, Wisconsin, USA.

Died:                14 Feb 1990 at the age of 89 in Platteville, Grant County, Wisconsin, USA.

Married 1st:      10 Dec 1924 Aleta “Leta” Verona Grunow in Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA.

Married 2nd:     after 1946 Marie E. (Johnson) Thomas. 

Find A Grave:   Memorial #122214281 buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Platteville, Grant County, Wisconsin, USA

Aleta “Leta” Verona Grunow daughter of Victor William and Leonora (Buckett) Grunow.

Born:                18 May 1901 in Mifflin, Iowa County, Wisconsin, USA.

Died:                8 Dec 1946, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, USA. 

Marie E. (Johnson) Thomas daughter of Syver P. and Mathilda (Halmrast) Johnson.

Born:               8 Nov 1904 in Coon valley, Vernon County, Wisconsin, USA.

Died:               27 Mar 1996 in Platteville, grant County, Wisconsin, USA.

Married First:   1927 Clarence A. Thomas

Find A Grave:  Memorial #122214282 buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Platteville, Grant County, Wisconsin, USA.

Note:             Clarence A. and Marie E. (Johnson) Thomas had a daughter: Betty Ann Thomas (1928-2020).


Joseph Van Matre and Leta V. Grunow Marriage:1

Miss Leta V. Grunow, niece of Mrs. F. E. White, 627 Mendota Court, and Joseph Van Matre, Darlington, formerly of Madison, were married Wednesday morning, at the parsonage of the Congregational church, the Rev. Schoenfeld officiating. Mr. and Mrs. van Matre visited here Thursday en-route to Butte, Mont., where they will make their home. The bride is a 1923 graduate of Platteville Normal school and taught the past year in the Altoona high school. She is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Grunow, Mifflin. The bridegroom attended the university of Wisconsin and is a graduate of the school of mines, Platteville. He is engaged as mining engineer at Butte.

Aleta “Leta”Van Matre Obituary2

Mrs. Van Matre Rites

PLATTEVILLE-Funeral services for Mrs. Joseph Van Matre 45, who died Thursday at a Dubuque, Ia.,, hospital after an illness of several months, willbe held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the First Methodist curch, Platteville. Dr. H. C. Culver will officiate with burial in Mifflin. The body was taken to the Concklin Funeral home.

The Order of the Eastern star will conduct special funeral rites.

Mrs. Van Matre, the former Leta Grunow, was born in Mifflin. After she graduated from Platteville Teachers college in 1924 she taught at Altoona. She married Jsoeph van matre in 1924 and they went to live in Butte, Mont.

The couple moved to Madison in  1933 and lived there until 1943 when they moved to Platteville.

She was a member of the Order of the eastern Star and the Platteville Women’s club.

Survivors include her husband; three sons, William, Emil, and Fritz, all at home; her mother, Mrs. Lenora Grunow, Livingston, and a brother, Alvin Grunow, Rewey.

Marie E. Van Matre Obituary3

VanMatre, Marie E.

PLATTEVILLE — Marie E. VanMatre, age 91, of Platteville, Wisconsin, died on Wednesday morning, March 27, 1996, at the Southwest Health Center in Platteville, Wisconsin. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 30, 1996, at 11:30 a.m at the FIRST ENGLISH LUTHERAN CHURCH, Platteville. The Rev. JoAnn Post will officiate with burial in the Platteville Greenwood Cemetery. The burial will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. Friends may call at the MERGEN-BOLL FUNERAL HOME, Platteville, on Friday, March 29, 1996, from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m. and at the church on Saturday after 10:30 a.m. The Eastern star service will be held at the funeral home. Memorials may be given to the First English Lutheran Church or the library at Platteville High School. 

Marie E. VanMatre, the daughter of Sever and Mathilda Halrast Johnson, was born on November 18, 1904, in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. She graduated from Westby High School in 1921. After completing her three year secondary course at the Lacrosse Normal School in 1924, Marie taught at Tigerton, Wisconsin, for three years prior to her marriage to Clarence A. Thomas in 1927. 

Mr. Thomas died in 1928. Marie returned to the Lacrosse Normal School and earned her BS degree. She taught in Neillsville, Wisconsin, from 1929 until 1935, when she came to Platteville. Marie taught at Platteville until retiring in 1951. During her years at Platteville, Marie completed her MA in Speech and English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

In 1947, Marie was united in marriage to Joseph M. VanMatre. They enjoyed 42 years of marriage. Mr. VanMatre died on February 14, 1990. After her husband’s retirement in 1962, Joe and Marie moved to Cassville, Wisconsin, where. they lived until 1986 when they returned to Platteville. For 25 years they spent the winter in Arizona. 

Marie was a member of the First English Lutheran Church. She was also a member and past president of Church Women United. In addition, Marie was also an active member of Miriam Chapter OES #15 from 1948 until her death. She served as Worthy Matron in 1955 and was a member of the Past Matron’s Club. Marie was also a charter member and past president of Chapter BN of the PEO sisterhood. She also had been a member of the Tourist Club and Monday evening club of Platteville. 

She was also preceded in death by a sister, Esther Steinhorst; a brother, Lloyd Johnson; and a stepson, Fred “Fritz” VanMatre. Survivors include a daughter, Betsy (James) DeMerit of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin; a sister, Elaine Grindell of Platteville, Wisconsin; two stepsons, William (Ruth) VanMatre of Clancy, Montana, and Victor (Audry) VanMatre of Coalinga, California; 13 grandchildren; 32 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. 

The Mergen-Boll Funeral Home of Platteville is serving the family.


Joseph M. Van Matre Autobiography4

Joseph M. Van Matre

Joseph M. Van Matre
Joseph M. Van Matre

I, Joseph M. Van matre, was born on a farm October 5, 1900, in the town of Faylette, LaFayette County, Wisconsin. My childhood ddays were about the same as those of other kids in the area. I had a long walk to the Goergetown country school, but it was good for me even though there was some very cold weather. After school there were the typical jobs of those days, filling the woodbox with wood and the reservoir of the big cookstove with water. As I became older, I had to miss days in the spring to assist with putting in the crops. During my days at the country school I had some excellent teachers. At the age of fourteen I wrote and passed the country examinations which permitted me to enter the Darlington High School.

In my third year Darlington organized a band. I got a used baritone saxophone and learned to play it. I played that same instrument in the University of Wisconsin band and later with the Shrine band in Butte, Montana . Years later my grandson played that same saxophone in the Wisconsin dells High school band.

I’ve always liked fun and a good time. I can’t recall that we were malicious or destructive, but I do know my friends and I were up to mischief, pranks, and deviltry often. I well remember my last year in high school. The janitor, Bob hunt, had a milk cow that he kept in a pasture at the edge of town. On Hallowe’en night five of us paid a visit to the cow and brought her back to town with us We got the door to the grade school open, and it was there we left the old cow. The next morning there was quite a commotion around the school but no one ever knew who was responsible. I was in the class play and wrote the class history.

It was about nine miles from the farm to Darlington. To get to school I rode a horse on Sunday afternoon to the edge of town. There I dismounted, tied the reins to the saddle horn, and told the horse to go home – which he did!

In the fall of 1919 I took off for Madison and the University of Wisconsin, where I enrolled in electrical engineering. I suffered the usual harassment of a freshman. Near the end of the school year, a friend of mine from Darlington, Nathan Benedict, came to see me and asked if I would care to go to Yellowstone National Park with him to work for the summer. My answer was “Yes!” We and two fellows from beloit were shacked up in the same tent. Part of our evening duties was to pop corn over an open fire and pass it to the tourists. If we found some girls among them, we told bear stories and all about how the bears liked chocolate. Later in the evening we walked them to their tents and after the lights went out, we sneaked up and scratched the canvas of their tent, making out that we were the bears we had told them about. Can you imagine the commotion that followed! It has been sixty-three years since the four of us worked at Yellowstone. For the past several summers we have managed to get together once each year to reminisce about those days.

I attended the University of Wisconsin for two years and then transferred to the Wisconsin Mining School in Platteville. One summer I worked in the mines at Butte, Montana, and after graduation I worked in the copper mines at Ruth, Nevada, for five months and then returned to Butte to work for Anaconda Copper where I later became a safety engineer.

On December 10th, 1924, I was married to Leta Grunow, a college friend. We lived in Butte, which was then a “rip-snortin” mining town. We didn’t have much, but we were happy. It was there that our first two sons were born. When the Depression came and my working hours were cut in half, I returned with my family to Wisconsin. Shortly I was offered a job with the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and was paid well for those days. We moved to Madison where our third son was born. I considered myself very lucky.

After a few years I returned to mining in Wisconsin, where my forefathers also had been active. When the mining started to slump, I suggested to Frank Einsweiler of Galena, Illinois, that we begin a concrete construction company to repair and replace the many bridges in the area that had been destroyed in a severe storm. Our company, known as V and E Construction Company, never did repair a bridge but we were busy from the day we started until we dissolved fifteen years later.Frank Einsweiler, my partner, is one of the finest men I have ever met. Through him I learned the value of kindness. In the fifteen years we worked together, we never had an argument nor did I ever hear a word of profanity from him.

After my wife died in 1946, I married Marie E. Thomas, a teacher in high school at Platteville. She was a widow with one child, a girl, so I finally acquired a daughter.

I retired from the construction business in 1962, we sold our home in Platteville, and we built a retirement home on the banks of the Mississippi in Cassville, Wisconsin. We have been fortunate in doing quite a lot of traveling. We have been in every state of the Union except Alaska. We have been in the Scandinavian countries, and we have visited at least ten other European countries. In the winter we go to Tucson, Arizona, to escape the cold, snow, and ice of Wisconsin.

When I was twenty-two, I became a member of the Masonic fraternity. In the eyars that followed, I studied both the ork Rite and the Scottish Rite and in 1966-1967 served as Grand High Priest of Royal Arch masons in the state of Wisconsin. Because I had been Master of the Blue Lodge, High Priest of the chapter, Thrice Illustrious Master of the Council, and Commander of the Commandery, I was awarded membership in the York Cross of Honor. I also have been elected to the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, the Royal Order of Scotland, and the Zor Shrine.

I liek people! One of my greatest joys is visiting with folks who stop in to see me, whether they be family or friends. Also I like music, peppy tunes with lots of rhythm for dancing, sacred songs like “How Great Thou Art”, the old favorites played by Lawrence Welk, and stirring military marches.

My home and my family have always meant a lot to me. I’m a fortunate man to have three fine sons all of whom are engineers, and their families, and a step-daughter and her household, all of whom are very dear to me. My good wife has been and is  a loving “Grandma” to all. Yes, I am a truly fortunate man!

My Linealogy

Jan Joosten Van Materen (1634-)
Joost Janse Van Meteren (1656-1706)
Jan (John) Van Meter (October 14, 1683-Sept 3, 1745)
Abraham van Meter (1721-1783)
Joseph Van Meter (1743-1799)
Morgan Van Matre (1765-March 31, 1813)
John Johnson Van Matre (lMay 4, 1803-July 27, 1880)
Joseph Van Matre (August 26, 1832-Dec 13, 1900)
John L. Van Matre (August 26, 1832-Dec. 13, 1900)
Joseph M. Van Matre (October 5, 1900)

Left to right are Frederick A., Victor E., Jsoeph M., and William J. Van Matre.
Left to right are Frederick A., Victor E., Jsoeph M., and William J. Van Matre.

Joseph M. and Aleta "Leta" Verona (Grunow) Children

  1. William John Van Matre (1925-2003) married ruth Noreen Weigel.
  2. Victor Emile Van Matre (1928-2019) married Audrey Marjorie Kasten.
  3. Frederick Arnold Van Matre (1934-1986) married Mary Ellen Hughes.


  1. Grunow-Van Matre Marriage, Wisconsin state Journal, Madison, Wisconsin, Sunday, December 14, 1924, page 13, retrieved from newspapers.com at https://www.newspapers.com/article/wisconsin-state-journal-marriage-of-grun/128627055/ (Accessed 21 Jul 2023).
  2. Mrs. Van Matre Rites, Wisconsin State Journal, Madison, Wisconsin, Dec 7, 1946, page 2, (Accessed 21 Jul 2023).
  3. Marie E. Van Matre Obituary, Wisconsin State Journal, Maddison, Wisconsin Freday, March 29, 1996, page 18, retrieved from newspapers.com at https://www.newspapers.com/article/wisconsin-state-journal-obituary-for-joe/128627503/ (Accessed 21 Jul 2023).
  4. Joseph M. Van Matre Autobiography, Van Matre, Joseph M., "A Story of A Van Matre Family", 1985, pp 71-72. (Accessed 22 Jul 2023).

The family Information was retrieved from a variety of family trees, webgens and family stories. I will note citations as appropriate and hope the information assists you in your research, but please do not use this as proven evidence. Feedback is welcome!

Pat Burns. Copyright © 2024. All Rights Reserved.

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